Pioneering New House Building Model To Be Considered
30th July 2010
Highland Councillors are being asked to consider investigating the feasibility of a pioneering new model of providing much-needed affordable homes in the Highlands.
It could see a new build programme of 650 houses over a five year period.
The idea is for the Council to work with a private sector partner to release the equity currently tied up in its Council houses. As houses become vacant they would transfer to the private sector partner in return for a capital payment. The capital would be used to build new houses for let as Council tenancies.
A key point to note is that the Council would continue to allocate, manage and maintain the stock, based on agreed fees per unit to be paid to the council by the partner.
The transferred houses would be relet to applicants on the Highland Housing Register at rent levels pitched between the average council rent and private rents, currently estimated at £75 per week (charged over 52 weeks). The average council rent for the current financial year is £59.76 (over 52 weeks).
Properties would revert to Council ownership at nil cost after 25 years.
Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of the Council's Housing and Social Work Committee, said: "This is an interesting proposition that has come forward from our Housing and Property management team, which allows the Council to release equity on the asset value of council housing becoming vacant to relet to generate funds for new council house building. We estimate this could number 650 over a five year period, The number could be significantly increased if the Scottish Government continues to provide subsidy for Council house building.
"The Housing and Social Work Committee will be asked to agree to undertake and fund a full feasibility assessment on the equity release model as a means to deliver additional affordable housing in the Highlands. We would work closely with the Scottish Government in developing the model.
"We would then come back to the Committee with a detailed business case."
She stressed that addressing the shortage of affordable housing in the Highlands is one of the Council's key priorities.
She added: "Strengthening the Highlands" has a target of 2,000 new affordable homes by 2011. We are on target to meet this commitment, but have identified ongoing high levels of demand for additional housing for rent beyond 2011. Successive Local Housing Strategies have identified the need for additional housing supply as the main strategic issue in relation to housing."
A campaign which aims to encourage all 15-17 year olds who will be eligible to vote for the first time in the Scottish Parliament election scheduled for May 2016 to sign up and register has begun across Highland and Islands. The initiative is part of a wider campaign that has been launched nationally across Scotland by the Electoral Commission.
The Highland Council's new improved recycling service begins next week. From 31st August residents can also put plastic pots, tubs and trays (excluding black plastic) into the blue recycling bin - in addition to cardboard food & drink cartons, aerosols and envelopes which were added in earlier in the summer.
The Highland Council Care and Learning Service has been successful in securing Ā£250,000 to support the development of the use of technology in learning. The bid, led by Louise Jones, ICT in Learning Manager was submitted to the Inspiring Learning Fund a Scottish Government fund developed by the Scottish Futures Trust.
Hundreds of potholes have been repaired in the first 6 months of this year. 1,437 potholes were repaired between January and June 2015.
The Highland Council is not impacted on any current projects by the "interruption" of EU funds to Scotland for 2007 -13 Programmes. The āinterruptionā relating to 2013 will have no bearing on claims submitted by the Council in 2014 or 2015 and Highland Council projects, audited in 2013, received a clean bill of health.
Highland Council welcomes the announcement today by the First Minister that 5 local schools are going to receive additional funding as part of the Attainment Scotland Fund. This second phase of the national initiative involves 57 schools across Scotland, and the five in Highland are - Merkinch and Bishop Eden (Inverness), Coulhill and Milton (East Ross) and South Wick (Caithness).
Highland Council residents can now apply for Council Tax discounts and exemptions and report change of circumstances online with the launch of new online forms on the Council's website. The new forms allow customers to complete online rather than by paper when applying for council tax discounts/exemptions and to report changes that may impact on their council tax, housing benefit or council tax reduction.
The Highland Licensing Board is advising people who have had their personal licences revoked that rules have changed and they may now be able to reapply. Since December 2014 The Highland Licensing Board has had to revoke a number of personal licences where the licence holder failed to comply with the mandatory refresher training requirements.
The PFR stone table with the inscription 'Out of Caithness to the World' will become the centre piece of the NDA Archive when it opens its doors in 2017. Construction of the new facility has begun at Wick and was officially opened by David Flear, Dounreay Stakeholder Group chairman, when he cut the first turf at an opening ceremony in August.
LEADER of The Highland Council, Margaret Davidson met with Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabularys in Scotland (MHICS), Mr Derek Penman, today to discuss the Inverness Police Control Room. She said: "I would like to thank Mr Penman for taking time to come to Inverness and listen to the concerns of the Highland Council.
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